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How to get your rental property ready for winter - checklists for landlords and tenants

winter rental property

Winter can have a devastating and costly impact on a home if the right prep work isn’t done, especially in situations where no one is living in a space for an extended period of time, which often happens during the holiday season.


Here are some essentials you should consider when preparing your home for winter:


Insulate your windows: Insulate your windows to reduce heating bills and keep the house warmer. Areas to focus on include around the windows and the space between the baseboards and the floor. For the windows you can use weather stripping around the frame, or window film kits, which can be applied over the window glass. These kits will help block out the cold and encourage light to reflect back into the house, keeping it warmer. You can use caulking to fill the gap between the baseboard and the floor. 


Trim nearby tree branches: Branches can start flying during a winter storm and cause structural damage to the roof of a house, or even break into its walls. Any branches within six feet of your house should be trimmed back. 


Clean eavestroughs: Leaving eavestroughs blocked with leaves and twigs can lead to water damage if they overflow, and allow water to seep into the walls or foundation of your house over time. 


Clean/inspect the fireplace and chimney: Fireplaces can be fire hazards if debris, dirt or bird’s nests are blocking them. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned. Also have them checked for damages like cracks. A cracked or a crumbling fireplace can be a major fire hazard and needs to be repaired. A cracked chimney can cause heat, moisture and gas to escape and damage the inside of your chimney. Cracks can also cause dirt and gas to build up within the chimney and create poor quality air in your home.


Find holes and block them:  Rodents seeking warmth can enter your property through small crevices. Avoid this problem by blocking any holes in walls, eavestroughs and the attic. Fill small holes in the walls with steel wool and put caulking along the edges. For large holes in the wall, use metal sheeting, cement, hardware cloth or metal mesh. Leaf guards will keep mice out of eavestroughs. 


Fill small holes with steel wool. Put caulk around the steel wool to keep it in place. Use lath screen or lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting to fix large holes. These materials can be found at your local hardware store.


Check your attic’s insulation: Check your attic’s insulation to make sure it is not too thin and does not have gaps in it. If this is the case, have it fixed to avoid heat escaping from your home. 


Winterize pipes: Pipes outside your house are most susceptible to bursting in the winter. To prepare for winter they should be drained, then turned off and insulated using foam pipe sleeves. For interior pipes, keeping the house warm helps prevent them from bursting.


Replace air filters: Heating your home will be more efficient if the air filters are new and not clogged with dust, so replace them regularly. 



Winter checklist for tenants who will be away over the holidays


If you have tenants heading out of town over the holidays, consider sharing with them the following checklist. Some minor to-dos can go a long way for both parties, knowing the home is secure. 


  1. Turn off the main water valve: As temperatures drop, pipes can burst when the water inside them freezes and expands. This can create costly water damage. To avoid this, when and if your tenant is going away for an extended period of time, ask them to turn off the main water valve and then turn on the faucets for a few minutes to let them drain. Leave a faucet open on the lowest floor of the house to drain in case it needs to while people are away. 

  2. Unplug appliances. 

  3. Set the thermostat between 16 and 21° C.

  4. Remove items that could attract animals like garbage, recycling and compost. Make sure dishes are cleaned (including dishes in the dishwasher), clean out food from the fridge that could go bad. 

  5. Lock windows and doors.

  6. To avoid theft, try to not make it obvious that you are away from the house. Tips on how to do this: avoid posting on social media that you are away and put a timer on indoor lights. Either the tenant or landlord can have someone shovel the driveway and pick up mail and packages. 

Want more information on maintaining your rental property? Check out our blog post on landlord maintenance obligations in Ontario.

Are you currently looking for a new renter for your property? Rhenti gets your listing in front of more renters than any other way, helping you to find the right tenant in the fastest way possible.


The blog posts on this website are for the purpose of general introductory information. They can’t serve as an opinion or professional advice. Speak to a professional before making decisions related to your circumstances.

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